TV weather presenter Owain plans to explore Lancashire more
- Credit: BBC
A magnetic toy theatre, a fascination with stage lighting and a talent for drumming don’t seem like obvious clues to a career as a television weather presenter. But Owain Wyn Evans is not the typical weather presenter.
He’s unapologetically flamboyant and is possibly the sharpest dresser on British television today.
Since he first appeared in the North West Tonight studio in September 2019, his career has rocketed. He now appears on BBC Breakfast, presents regularly on Radio Five Live and BBC Radio Wales and has hosted a series of ‘In Conversation with...’ shows where he has interviewed Kylie Minogue and Dolly Parton, among others.
It’s not how he ever envisaged his life panning out.
Born in South Wales in the mid-1980s, he grew up in an ex-mining town and although he knew as a young boy that he was gay, he had no role models and little idea of what it meant for him.
‘There were only four channels on tv when I was young and there was no-one I could relate to,’ he said. ‘It took a long time for LGBTQ people to not be the butt of jokes in television programmes or films, so I just sort of put it all in a box and closed the lid.
‘My father rode motorbikes and I did, and then I got interested in the drums and the bands I was in would play at rugby clubs. It was all quite a masculine environment and there didn’t seem to be a place where I would fit in. It was a very confusing time, to be honest.’
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Owain’s first glimpse of showbiz came at primary school when he became fascinated with the lights over the stage. ‘I remember thinking how interesting they were,’ he said. ‘I used to ask my parents for disco lights for birthdays and I’d go through the Tandy catalogue and free ads looking for different lights and asking my parents for them.
‘They gave me a Magical Theatre where you moved the characters with magnets and that was great. It made me interested in that side of the performing world, more than being on stage.’
He did come to enjoy performing as well, though, as drummer in a series of bands playing gigs at rugby clubs around South Wales. And when he dropped out of university - after one term on a course studying moving lights and robotic lighting at Carmarthen - he decided to concentrate on forging a career as a drummer.
But when a friend’s mother intervened, his life was set on a different path.
‘I got into tv quite by chance,’ he said. ‘I was planning to get my grades up on the drums and concentrate on that, but then a friend’s mum cut an ad out of the paper for me. It was for a presenter for a children’s news programme. The screen test was like an out of body experience but I got the job. I thought “Wow, this is showbiz, darling”. I’d never been a television studio before and it was all so exciting.
‘I had kind of come out already, but I felt I had to go back in the closet when I got that job. There was a feeling of shame which I think a lot of LGBTQ people have which is perhaps a product of the way people have been treated. As time went on I became more comfortable. I’m happy with who I am now.’
Owain went from the children’s news programme to providing traffic and weather reports for Radio Wales, and then to a job as a producer on the World Service in London.
‘Presenting was what delighted me and I had studied meteorology with the Open University by that time, so I rang round the regions and said if anyone needed cover for a weather presenter, to let me know,’ he added. ‘It felt uber glamorous. I’d get a phone call from BBC Scotland and I’d fly to Glasgow to present the weather.’
He then had a spell as maternity cover on Look North in Leeds and ended up staying there for a couple of years, during which time he married his long-term partner Arran in London.
In 2019 he moved to Manchester to become the lead weather presenter for BBC North West Tonight after the death of Dianne Oxberry.
‘It was a very sad time when I moved here,’ he said. ‘It was a really horrible time for everyone but they were all simply fab with me.
‘I have been so grateful for the response I’ve been given. I am unapologetically flamboyant and you never know what the reaction will be when you move somewhere new, but it has been so nice.
‘Watching Queer as Folk was a real turning point for me. I wasn’t out at the time and I just remember watching it and thinking ‘oh my god, what is this magical Manchester place’. And now I live there!
‘I love the North West, it reminds me of home in Wales – it's an ex-mining and industrial area with beautiful countryside and coast. There’s a Welsh word, hiraeth, which literally translates as longing, but means the feeling of being tugged back to home, and I feel that less now I’m living here than I have anywhere else. There’s a feeling of home here.’
‘When I first started doing the weather I went out and bought a suit, then added some lapel furniture. There was no weather presenter who really went for it and was flamboyant, so I bought some snazzy ties and whatnot. I bought some three piece suits and pocket squares.
‘I spend a lot of time putting a theme together. I buy them all myself – I don’t get given any clothes – and I enjoy putting it all together, finding the right lapel furniture and accessories. I don’t spend a lot on my outfits, they’re not designer suits, or from tailors.
‘Deciding what to wear is a fine balance, it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear a glittery suit on the news, but viewers want something a bit lighter by the end of the news and some good news. Even if the weather is completely rubbish, I try to put a positive spin on it.’
Longing to visit
‘I’ve not had much of a chance to get round the North West because of Covid. I have spent some time in Blackpool and in Morecambe, pre-lockdown and I’m looking forward to getting back to the coast. I love to be by the sea, so as soon as I can, that’s where I’ll be going. I want to investigate Lancashire more.’
Away from the cameras
‘I like doing a bit of DIY. There’s a lot of work to be done in the house – moving in lockdown was difficult, everything took longer than it would normally. Drumming takes up a lot of my time, but I’ve gone electronic now and the neighbours are thrilled! I love a bit of karaoke – anything from the noughties, particularly Britney – but my disco lights have been gathering dust in lockdown.’